News Column

State Attorney General Investigating Possible Data Breach At Community Health Center

June 14, 2014

By Shawn R. Beals, The Hartford Courant

June 14--MIDDLETOWN -- The state Attorney General is investigating a possible data breach at the Community Health Center after a complaint by the non-profit health center's former information technology director.

Ali Eslami, who worked for CHC for 14 years before he was fired in February, said he has been in contact with attorneys there regarding a potential data breach.

He said he dropped off a hard drive with the state that he said contained medical data for the Community Health Center's 130,000 patients on it. Eslami said the hard drive was included in personal effects the company shipped to him after he was terminated.

Jaclyn Falkowski, a spokeswoman for the Attorney General's office, said this week that there is a "pending investigation into an alleged breach of patient information" at CHC. She said she could not release more information about the investigation, and declined to comment on the hard drive.

The Community Health Center said it was given the hard drive by the state, and has determined that the hard drive was not provided to Eslami by the company, said Andrea Obston, a spokeswoman for the community Health Center.

"We take all such claims [about patient information] seriously and we have hired a third party to forensically evaluate the hard drive to determine the hard drive's origin and contents," Obston said.

Eslami also alleges that the CHC had a significant data breach in January, and did not notify its patients that their personal information may have been compromised. He said he believes he was fired for refusing to ignore the problem.

CHC declined comment on the reason for termination, and has denied that any such data breach occurred.

"I stood my ground," Eslami said. "I couldn't sweep it under the rug."

The Attorney General's office made an inquiry into the alleged breach in an April 2 letter to the CHC.

CHC attorneys replied April 15, and said that after a full review determined there had been no breach of electronic records. The Attorney General's office chose not to pursue the matter further, but Falkowski said in a May 28 email to The Courant that the issue could be revisited at any time if the state was made aware of additional information.

The CHC was granted an injunction Friday in Superior Court that prevents Eslami from disclosing patient information or accessing its computer or banking systems.

The injunction also compels Eslami to return any CHC property or data he has and to refrain from making threats against CHC founder and CEO Mark Masselli.


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Source: Hartford Courant (CT)

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